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Former Wichita Mayor Don Enoch remembered for vision, integrity

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, June 26, 2010, at 6:02 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 26, 2010, at 7:20 p.m.

Shortly after he was elected to the Wichita City Commission in 1967, Don Enoch started pitching the idea that the city should do more than hold a parade for its upcoming 100th anniversary.

The occasion could spark a renaissance in the city, he said. He envisioned beautification projects, cultural programs and an upgrade of the city's business district.

Two years later, after Mr. Enoch had been sworn in as the city's 61st mayor, the city held its Centennial of Progress Pageant, an event that evolved into the Wichita River Festival.

Mr. Enoch, one of the key figures in the establishment of the River Festival, died Thursday at age 94.

His son, Craig Enoch of Austin, Texas, a retired justice for the Texas Supreme Court, said his father's visions of the city always included the river.

"He always thought that the Arkansas River was just a jewel in the center of the city," he said. "If there was anything that could be the centerpiece of growth and development of the city, that was it."

For many, Enoch will be remembered as a strong community booster who drew the most votes in the 1967 City Commission race. Those who knew him well will remember him as a man who also loved music and played piano into his 90s.

Mr. Enoch was born in Neosho, Mo., and moved with his family to Wichita while he was in grade school.

He attended North High School and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wichita — now Wichita State — with a degree in music.

He took the position as band director at Atwood High School during the dust bowl years of the late 1930s. As a rookie teacher in his early 20s, he guided the band to state and national honors.

"Students to this day still call dad and check on him," said his daughter, Dawn Moore of Dallas. "They'd roll out the red carpet when we showed up in Atwood."

Mr. Enoch joined the Army Air Corps at the start of World War II, and he served as an aircraft instructor and test pilot.

After the war, he returned to Wichita and took over the family business, Wichita Brush Co. He eventually built it into a full-service building maintenance and cleaning supply business, Wichita Brush and Chemical Co.

Craig Enoch said he remembers the day in the 1960s when his father sat down at the dinner table with an important announcement.

He said every chemical in the company — the waxes, the soaps, the cleaners — were biodegradable.

Craig Enoch said he didn't realize the significance of the accomplishment until long after his days as a student at East High School.

Moore said she recalled that during an out-of-state trip , her father parked outside a hotel and realized he didn't have any change for the parking meter.

One of Mr. Enoch's sons suggested that they'd only be inside for a minute and didn't need to worry about the meter. Mr. Enoch got change from the concierge, put a quarter in the meter, and said, "My integrity is worth more than 25 cents."

"He was a man of tremendous integrity," Moore said. "He was just an outstanding man."

Mr. Enoch is survived by two other sons, Dr. Rolland Enoch of Wichita and Mark Enoch of Rowlett, Texas, as well as his wife of 54 years, Margery Trively. He also is survived by 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Services are being handled by Downing and Lahey East Mortuary.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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